Hardwood Revival
Hardwood Floor Refinishing Explained

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Explained

Whether you own a home or run a business, one of your main concerns is how to maintain your property and protect it from damage. That's why you have homeowner's insurance, and that's also why hardwood floor refinishing is so important. Not only will hardwood floor refinishing make your floors look new again, but it will also protect them.

When to Refinish Your Floors

When your once shiny floors look dull and scratched, when the boards are broken, cracked, or gouged, or when stains or water marks mar the wood, wood floor refinishing can make all the difference. Hardwood Revival offers two levels of refinishing, depending on whether the damage is just to the finish or to the wood itself. When just the finish needs refreshing, it is possible to do a screen and recoat, also known as a buff and coat. For deeper damage to the wood, or to change the stain color, sanding and refinishing can be the way to go.

Which refinishing is right for your floor? It depends on the condition of the floor, is it solid hardwood or engineered wood floors, and several other factors. If you are still not sure, schedule an inspection and estimate appointment with Hardwood Revival's refinishing technicians. They will examine your floor and recommend the correct procedure for you, allowing you to maintain your wood floors in great looks and for a long time. Wood Floors have many advantages over other flooring solutions, but they do require proper maintenance to keep those advantages over time.

Buildup from Cleaning Products and Floor Wax

If your finish is sticky, cloudy, shows footprints, and attracts dirt, you may not need refinishing at all. You may have used one of those floor cleaners designed to clean and give a shine in one easy step. We won't name names, but these products are sold in just about every grocery store, and may even have written right on the bottle that they are safe for wood floors. Well, the acrylic wax used to give that shine builds up on the floor, and makes the floor look really horrible. Once you remove the waxy buildup, you may find that your floors look just fine. If the floor has ever been waxed, the good news is that you can still refinish the floor. The bad news is that even if the floor itself isn't damaged, you'll have to do a full sanding to remove the wax completely. Wax reacts directly with the polyurethane finishes so that the new finish won't adhere and pulls up.

Hardwood Floors - The Screen and Recoat Process

The Screen and Recoat Process

Screen and recoat involves roughing up the surface of the existing finish, so that the new finish layer will adhere and not peel away. Since the old finish is still intact across the whole floor, regular upkeep of the finish will not only restore the shine, but it also may indefinitely postpone the need to sand the floor, so your floor will last longer. This is particularly important for engineered hardwood, where the wear layer may only be thick enough to start with for two cycles of sanding before you would have to replace the floor.

  1. Turn off the HVAC system and cover all vents to prevent dust from getting into the air ducts and blowing throughout your home. Remove all furniture from the room.
  2. Sweep or vacuum the floor, taking care to remove all dust, dirt and debris. You don't want any grit at all on the floor. This includes staples, nails, or other metal objects that could really scratch the floor during the screening.
  3. Clean the floor with an appropriate wood floor cleaner to remove all contaminants from the surface of the finish.
  4. Use either a pole sander or a buffer with a pad and a high grit screen (100 or 120) to gently abrade the finish. Hand screen the edges and corners of the room, or under cabinets or radiators
  5. Thoroughly sweep or vacuum the floor, and then tack the floor with a microfiber cloth. It is really critical to get up all the dust here, before the finish is applied.
  6. Apply a line of finish along one wall of the room, along the grain of the wood. The line should be about three to four inches wide. It may be helpful to pour the finish from a watering can to better control the stream.
  7. Using a t-bar with a coater, draw the finish across the length of the room. Turn at the end of the room, pushing the excess finish in front of you, like a snowplow, and return back in the other direction, making sure that the edge of the finish line stays wets when you do the next line. Applying water-based polyurethane finish evenly is a skill that takes some time to learn. The finish dries very quickly, which is one reason why it is popular, but it makes it a challenge to keep the edge of the finish wet while doing the whole room.
  8. Exit the room, completing the finish behind you. Allow the finish to dry completely.
  9. If another layer is to be added, screen the new coat, vacuum, and tack, before applying the second layer.

Sanding Floors

There are a number of reasons to sand away the finish completely and apply a brand new finish from scratch:

  • To remove deep scratches and gouges
  • When the floor is being patched, so the patch is seamless
  • To remove floor wax
  • When there are areas where the finish is completely worn off
  • To address stains or other damage on the wood
  • To change the color of the wood, removing any old stain and/or staining the floor a new color.

Sanding floors is better left to professionals with experience. Each step of the refinishing process depends on an even sanding job.

Many DIYers are dismayed to realize that every imperfection in the sanding job appears magnified and even more visible once the finish is applied. A professional will also be able to sand floors while removing the minimum amount of wood (approximately 1/32"), allowing for future sanding and refinishing and greater stability of the floor boards. Sanding is not a one step process.

It is a step-down process, using progressively finer sandpaper to remove the scratch marks of the previous grit. The rougher, starting grit (often 36, but it depends on the floor) is designed to remove the old finish, and the subsequent grits,going up to 100 or 120, remove the scratch marks of the previous grit level, to create a smooth and level surface for the finishing. Professional floor refinishers use a drum sander for the main area of the room, and an edger for the edges. Corners can be scraped out by hand with a scraper, and then hand screened with a 100 or 120 grit paper to match it to the rest of the floor.

If you are going to sand your own floors, it is very important to pay attention to these three things:

  • Safety with sanding is important. Protect your hearing with ear plugs, and wear a dust mask.
  • Don't overuse the sand paper - even if it still feels sharp, it may not be doing the job you need it to do. Pay close attention to the recommendations for what area the sandpaper should cover, and make sure to change the paper regularly.
  • Empty the dust bag on the drum sander before it is full.

Buildup from Cleaning Products and Floor Wax

The basis steps in sanding are:

  1. Remove all furniture and furnishings from the room, pictures on the walls and curtains, too. Even with the best dust containment, things are going to get a layer of dust on them. This is also a good time to turn off the HVAC system and cover up the vents. Removing the door from its hinges will make it easier to sand the doorway evenly.
  2. Sweep the floor, and make sure that there aren't any large sharp particles that could scratch the floor with the sander or tear into the sand paper.
  3. Use the drum sander with the starting grit, and sand over the floor, going with the grain of the wood. For parquet floors, where the drum sander will always be going against some of the grain, a 45% angle may be beneficial.
  4. Use the edger with the starting grit for the outside edges of the room, and to go under the edges of cabinets and radiators.
  5. Sweep or vacuum the floor before proceeding to the next grit.
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 for all four grit levels.
  7. Use a buffer with a pad and a high grit screen to screen the entire floor. This will even out the transition area around the borders of the room, where the edger was used instead of the drum sander.
  8. Sweep/vacuum once again, and clean the floor. Be careful on the bare boards - they are very susceptible to damage without a finish. The floor can be stained at this point, if desired. However, staining can give unpredictable results, and will also accentuate any faults in the sanding job. Wait for the stain to dry completely before continuing. Apply the finish to the floor, as described under the screen and recoat process. Water-based polyurethane should have three or four coats applied.

Choose Wisely, Damages are Hard to Fix

Whatever course of action you choose, you have to remember that damages are harder to fix than if the job had been done right to begin with. If you're not sure you can do it yourself, hire a professional wood floor refinishing company like Hardwood Revival. With years of experience and the right equipment, you'll get the best results possible for your precious floor.

 

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